The Start of an Epic Pentium Pro build

Irinikus

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The Pentium Pro has always interested me, so today I bought this Pentium Pro motherboard as a start: (It comes with the full complement of 192MB of EDO RAM)









I intend to fit a 1MB Pentium Pro chip:



For graphics I intend to install a Matrox Millennium II card feeding two 3DFX Voodoo2's in SLI.





For sound I intend to install a Creative AWE64 Gold:



I'll also look into installing a SCSI controller card to fit a 15K SCSI disk



And I'd like to install this all into a Gateway full tower case similar to this one:

 
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Irinikus

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I've just bought this Matrox Millennium G450 card to serve the role of the 2D card that I'll pair with the Voodoo2 SLI setup: (This card will offer far more performance than the Millennium II that I originally considered!)

 
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Irinikus

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I've just bought this Creative AWE64 Gold sound card for the system:



These aren't easy to obtain with the memory daughter board, so this is a rare configuration!

Any move that I can make to unload the CPU or System Bus will result in an improvement to the overall system performance!
 
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Irinikus

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Here are some details on the layout of the Chaintech 6ITM Socket 8 Motherboard:









It's a pretty decent board!

I've managed to get a copy of the latest BIOS update for the board



I'm going to be running Windows 98SE on the machine, so I've got the relevant ISO and boot disc image required to install Windows 98SE onto the machine.

Seeing that I've purchased the AWE64 Gold and the Millennium G450, I've also acquired the relevant Windows 98 drivers and software for them.
 
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Irinikus

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I'm going to be placing the machine in this case: (The shipping cost from the US is going to cost me more than twice the price of the case itself!)

I've been looking at beige cases for days, and this design looks to be the most sturdy to me!











This is what this type of case looks like on the inside:

 

Elf

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Very nice; I would advocate for the Jaz drive. I used to use an external one at school (when they were current) but never saw an internal one! Much more exciting than the DVD drive though. :p

I am curious about the choice of a Pentium Pro buildout, the novelty / fun factor? :)

I also had a -- rather large, mini-fridge sized chassis -- dual Pentium Pro machine that I salvaged from a .edu in the early 00s and ran FreeBSD on it. Not sure I ever really took advantage of anything unique to the processor other than doing a build world with a ppro target though. Originally I thought that the Pro was one of the first of the Pentium line to really support multi-processor capability but it seems like the original Pentium had it well supported?
 

Irinikus

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I stand corrected, but as far as I know it was the first to support quad processors. The standard Pentium 1 did support dual processor setups.

I need an example of a Pentium machine in my collection, and in my opinion the standard Pentium 1 is a little bit bland (to boring).

I missed out on owning a Pentium Pro in the 90's so now it's time to play catchup! :)

My aim here, is to build the best possible single Pentium Pro setup by placing the best card options possible into the machine. The AWE64, for instance should make a performance difference, as it has an additional 32MB of dedicated RAM slotted. In those days sound in games actually affected overall system performance. (In theory the additional RAM should help to free up the system bus during gaming.)

No games at that time could take advantage of multithreading, so a multiprocessor system wouldn't help as far as gaming performance goes. (Depending on the results I achieve here, I may take a look into building a multiprocessor setup in the future.) Interestingly, building up one of these machines today requires the same amount of money as it does to build up an SGI system!!! (So they're not cheap to mess around with!)

Once this setup is built I want to benchmark it with different CPU options, including the Pentium II Overdrive Processor and also put it up against my AlphStation 255 300, to see how they compare performance wise.
 

Elf

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Should be fun :)

From my understanding the AWE64's memory (and other soundcards like it) is more for loading wavetable data for more realistic synthesis. I don't think it would do much to accelerate a DOS game per se, at least the way most of them worked by sending out the music as MIDI where it would be the same task for the CPU either way, but you might be able to get some better sounding music out of it!
 

Irinikus

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Cool, thanks for the info!

Once I’m done with this machine, I still have an AMD 486 DX2 100 to upgrade and play around with. (Maybe compare its Windows 3.11 performance with that, that I’ve setup on my Tezro!)
 
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Irinikus

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I have confirmed that the Power Supply in the case isn't ATX

So here's a fairly decent low end 450W Power Supply that I'll be able to source locally: (It has fairly good reviews, so it should suffice for this low power system!)



Here are the specs: (Just look at all those SATA connectors!!!)



I'll have to buy a few of these



and one of these: (To power all the drives!)

 
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Irinikus

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This video that I found shows that although the Pentium Pro wasn't optimised fro 16-Bit applications, it absolutely destroys a pentium MMX machine in both 16 and 32-Bit applications: (And this guy isn't even running an SLI setup!!!)


I really can't wait to get this thing built and up and running!!!!
 
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Jan

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It’s an interesting project! I always thought about having a Pentium Pro myself these days but it never happened. I don’t know why exactly anymore :unsure:
 

Jacques

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Great build, reminds me of my first PC, a 200mhz AMD K6 build.
Your build is crying out to be paired with a nice 17” Viewsonic CRT display. That would have been a great setup for the time running 1024x768 or 1280x1024.
 

Irinikus

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Great build, reminds me of my first PC, a 200mhz AMD K6 build.
Your build is crying out to be paired with a nice 17” Viewsonic CRT display. That would have been a great setup for the time running 1024x768 or 1280x1024.
A classic CRT monitor would be really cool, but they're becoming increasingly hard to come by in South Africa (Most of them have already been recycled!!! Almost all beige boxes have also been recycled, hence I have to import the case for this build from the US!!!)
 
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Irinikus

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I got my motherboard and CPU today! :)

To test it and send feedback to the seller, I placed the board on my desk (on a protective piece of cardboard), slotted the Dynamic Pictures Oxygen 202 that I have lying around, connected the ATX Power Supply that I purchased for this build and fired it up!



And it worked!!! (So I'm very happy!)





Now I just have to wait for the Matrox Millennium and the Case to arrive from the US, the AWE64 Gold to arrive fro Italy, and we're kind of in business, as I'll still have to purchase all the gear required to fit a SCSI Drive, and two Voodoo II 12MB cards to SLI in the system!
 
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Irinikus

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According to the motherboard's manual, all of the PCI slots are 2.1 (Meaning 66MHz)



So in theory I should be able to fit one of these SATA cards and run a RAID 0 SSD setup?



It looks like it also supports the Overdrive Processor!!!
 

Elf

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For such a card you probably want to check whether the RAID arrangement is performed on the card itself (hardware RAID) or via the driver (software RAID). Software RAID might be hard to pull off with an older OS? And in many ways, less desirable in general (harder to recover from, burdens the host processor, etc.).

Some of the language on that ("optional RAID utility") suggests software RAID to me since usually hardware RAID is configured at boot from an extension BIOS.

You might try to find something like an old LSI or 3ware card on eBay?
 

Irinikus

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I decided to cancel the order on the card, as there're too many questions around the SIL3114 chipset. There are quite a few people who have had problems booting from the card! (And I don't want such issues!!!)

I'll therefor go with a SCSI controller and an 18GB 15K RPM drive, as it will be of an adequate size for the machine. (I also found out that the likes of Windows 98 have serious problems when partitions are greater than 30GB in size. The 18GB drive will allow me to avoid having to split a larger drive into multiple partitions, smaller than 30GB!)
 

Irinikus

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My Matrox Millennium G450 arrived today, and it's a brand new card! (Never slotted!!!)



Over the weekend I'll test it in the BIOS, as I have no way of installing an operating system let alone drivers for this card onto this system at this point! (I need the case with its CD-ROM and stiffy drive!)

Here are the card's specs:





Once the case arrives, I may just install an IDE drive and setup Windows 98 on it, while I source a PCI SCSI controller and 15K RPM drive for the system!
 
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